I'm going to have to wait until my computer tower is repaired to post my photos (what a great welcome home!) so here is a summary of what I noticed in our 9 days in Luxor (we were 5 days in Aswan too):
- Uncomfortable Monarch flight, they try to sell the £2.50 headphones before admitting there is no film, £2 for 'Hello' & very limited duty free etc. We always pack headphones, but not really worth it for old TV repeats. Take a good book, your own snacks & a fleece.
- in Arrivals the Visas are still £10 or $15 from the banks but the tour reps line the barrier to hide the banks & there are public announcements to tell you to go to your tour operators' desk! one company had its desk immediately on the right inside the door. Queue at the bank was very small due to the 'human shield'.
- we booked our own transfer with ReallifeEgypt, so avoided the tour bus delay that always happens to us. Other regular visitors fround the taxi drivers demands excessive this year, & had to pay far more than usual.
- review of El Luxor to follow, once I'm back online properly. Sad to say that even the 3rd room we saw was dirty - standards have slipped badly since last we stayed there pre-takeover. Slept a total of 3 nights there, but I was glad we'd booked 4 nights in the Aswan Movenpick & then we caved in & moved into the Winter Pavillion.
Reviews to follow, but I need to watch the dates carefully to avoid the 1 year rule for the Pavillion.
Combining cash & Tesco vouchers we spent a total of £1079 on flights & B&B accommodation for the fortnight. Transfers & return travel to Aswan by car & train cost LE670.
- very few visitors compared to last year & many seemed to stick to the hotels. The 'hassle' from taxi/caleche/felucca touts didn't seem as intense as we'd have thought given the approach of Ramadan & the lack of customers. The scrf ladies are still by the Winter Palace: LE10 each & hard to say no to. I ended up with 2 extras, even though I came with enough!
- The Corniche has been totally dug up in the area past the museum, so traffic diverts inland. Didn't get a close look, couldn't find out when the rest is scheduled to go. Did find the Lower Corniche shopping centre opposite the Winter Palace was quieter than usual, some shops are moving & the internet cafe was not as cared for as in previous years. Very slow & poor connections - not sure if that was down to poor maintenance or poor electricity supply.
- West bank was illuminated twice while we were there, but the knock-on effect is that there are power cuts or power restrictions that affect everybody. Not funny when the air-con disappears during a hot afternoon. Lots of knock-on effects eg the Lantern seems to have a drill when the lights go off: one man stands by the door & a lamp is hung up by the till!
- Strange weather: very hot but windless with a misty fine dust in the air that made everything feel gritty. Very odd at night, almost foggy & in the morning we couldn't see the West Bank from the Palace steps! Took a few days to clear - Pavilion desk clerk said he'd never seen anything like it before. Did hear that there'd been a big storm in Aswan, maybe the dust was connected to that, but it wasn't the 'dust storm' that we've seen before.
- the Oasis cafe is moving to near the St Joseph hotel as that end of town seems 'dead', it'll be a shame to lose the lovely building but business is business & the new place will be a bit bigger. The English church is still standing, but is clearly in the way of what Mr DD calls the 'missing sphinx road'.
We ate at the Oasis, the Lantern, Maximes, Puddleducks, Nile Valley hotel, Tutti Frutti & the Etap's Champollion - reviews to follow. Missed Sofra as it was still closed.
- replaced mango icecream with Snacktime's mango milkshake ... lush & only LE10.5! Gave cakes fron Twinky to the desk clerks. Took Arkwrigt's picnics to the airport - will definitely do that again!
- shopped at Habiba, both Fair trade centres, new Aboudi,a dusty little fixed price place between Habiba & the older fair Trade place, the souk (irresistable), Aisha & also bought loofahs from the man on Station St (just past the post office, sitting on the grass: LE10 for big size, LE20 for the huge ones).
- visited Roy & Shuroy tombs, Seti 1 temple, Carter's dusty house (NO hologram for us!), Al Kab for the two chapels, Philae, Nubia museum, Botanic Island & Aswan souk.
- I managed to get ill (I have a chemically-lowered immune system to counteract the RA) & this had a significant effect on my mobility this time: very frustrating as I couldn't do many of the sites on my list. MUST come back....!
- the tatty shopping centre by the WP has been razed & even the Holy Man's Tomb has disappeared, so there is now a very long line of caleches from the Corniche to Sindbad's: the smell of ammonia is eye-watering. There is now a chainlink wire fence stretching diagonally across the rubble, & the wall has been breached between what was Aboudis & the former-NWP that is now a building site. I assume this wire marks the edge of the 'new' hotel site.
No doubt I'll remember something else, but enough for now I think!